Friday, June 28, 2013

Book Review: Stay at Home Dead by Jeffrey Allen (Stay at Home Day Mysteries #1)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Good characters and a real sense of fun
Cons: Weakish plot and no sense of time
The Bottom Line
Enjoyable book
Main character who stands out
Plot could be better

Being a Stay at Home Dad Can be Deadly

Most of the mystery series I read star women.  That’s because the cozy sub-genre, my favorite, is mostly read by women.  So when I found out about Stay At Home Dead, the first in a series that features a stay at home dad as the main character, I knew I had to read it.

Three years ago, Deuce Winters gave up his job as a high school teacher and football coach to become a stay at home dad, a choice that his friends have had a hard time accepting.  But he loves spending his day with daughter Carly and even being the Room Dad at her pre-school.

But things take a bad turn when he returns from a grocery shopping trip, Carly in tow, to find a dead body in the family minivan.  Even worse, the dead man is Benny.  Twenty years ago, Benny tackled Deuce at a high school football game and ended Deuce’s football career.  Then, when Deuce’s high school girlfriend dumped him, Benny married her.  With the detective assigned to the case focusing in on Deuce, he decides to rustle up some other suspects.  Who had a real motive for the murder?

Deuce and his family are great.  Deuce does make some boneheaded moves, but his wife is quick to call him on it.  Overall, they have a loving marriage.  Carly felt like a real three-year-old and reminded me a bit of my niece, who is just younger than she is.  Deuce’s parents could be a bit obnoxious, but overall I liked them, as I did most of the characters.  The ones I didn’t like I wasn’t supposed to like, but even the villains were well drawn.

Unfortunately, the plot didn’t seem to work as well as the characters did.  While lots of stuff happens, the mystery itself is a little thin, which is why it often felt like it wasn’t moving forward much.  It also contributed to a weak ending to the story, although all the plot points are tied up in a believable way.

A pet peeve of mine is when authors pay no attention to the timeline, and that happened here.  The story takes place over at least eight or nine consecutive days, but we never once hit a weekend.

On the other hand, the bits of humor were great.  I wouldn’t call this a funny book, but there were definitely some funny lines, especially in Deuce’s first person narration.  Yes, he even takes shots at himself.

Yes, there were weaknesses.  But overall, I enjoyed Stay At Home Dead and will be back for Deuce’s second adventure.

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